BBC’s Panorama & PBS’s Frontline Team For Podcast ‘I’m Not A Monster’ About U.S. Family Who Lived Under ISIS

By Andreas Wiseman, Jake Kanter

I'm Not A Monster
I'm Not A Monster BBC

EXCLUSIVE: For the first time, BBC Panorama and Frontline (PBS) are collaborating to co-produce a new investigative podcast for BBC Sounds.

I’m Not A Monster will chart the story of Sam Sally, the American mom who left behind a comfortable life and travelled to the heart of the Islamic State group caliphate with her family. Her husband became an ISIS sniper, and her 10-year old son, Matthew, appeared in an infamous propaganda video threatening President Trump.

Sally, previously Samantha El Hassani, has said that her husband tricked her into traveling to Syria. She eventually fled Raqqa with her children after her husband was killed fighting for the terrorist organization.

The pod is fronted by journalist and host Josh Baker who in 2016 narrowly survived a suicide bombing. While he was recovering he got the tip-off about Sally’s story. He pieced it together from Indiana to ISIS and back, via Raqqa’s infamous torture prison and an elk hunt in Idaho.

Producers include Emma Rippon (BBC), Joe Kent (BBC) and Max Green (Frontline PBS). The podcast was commissioned by Dylan Haskins and Jason Phipps (BBC Sounds) in collaboration with Raney Aronson and her team at Frontline and Karen Wightman and Rachel Jupp at BBC Panorama.

Baker said: “I’ve worked on a number of investigations into westerners who’ve joined ISIS, but this one proved to be like nothing I’ve experienced before. It’s a privilege to let Matthew tell his story as an American boy who was forced to appear in ISIS’ infamous propaganda. And for the first time bringing the two journalistic forces of BBC Panorama and Frontline PBS together to put their collective weight behind a global tale that’s explored across two films and a 10 part serialised podcast, allowing the audience to go deeper into this extraordinary story and follow the investigation every step of the way.”

The I’m Not A Monster series trailer is available on BBC Sounds here or Episode 1 will be available Monday 23 November.

The case of Sam Sally is also investigated in an upcoming Frontline (PBS) documentary, as well as in the UK on BBC One’s Panorama. The Panorama film Return from ISIS: A Family’s Story is on BBC One at 9pm UK on Monday, November 23, 2020. The Frontline filmReturn From ISISwill air on PBS at 10pm ET on Tuesday, December 15.

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